Toronto is an inevitable step on the way to the famous Niagara Falls and it deserves a few nights' stay. As the fifth largest city in Northern America, Toronto was founded by British settlers in 1792 as 'York', it is now the capital city of Ontario, a typically American city with a financial city centre, made up of skyscrapers, surrounded by a series of ethnic districts with Victorian, Romanesque and Art-Deco architecture. The combination of modern and old buildings gives it its character, much appreciated by people interested in town planning.
What gives Toronto its charm, however, is its different districts and their particular characters. According to Unesco, Toronto is the world's most multi-cultural city, with a population consisting of 50% foreigners. Cosmopolitan, this dynamic city has different types of districts such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Little India or Koreatown, without forgetting community districts such as the Gay Village or the hippy district. Every block has a particular atmosphere, population, restaurants and liveliness! All these populations blend together to create a convivial and festive ambience.
Nature is not left aside in this city located on the shore of Lake Ontario. Several little islands are natural havens giving the opportunity to swim, sunbathe or go for a walk in summer; moreover the city holds 1,500 parks, that is to say 20,000 acres of greenery.
Toronto, however, is first and foremost a cultural city with museums such as the Royal Museum, the country's largest public museum with six million treasures, but also theatres, cinemas and the famous CN tower, the emblem of the city, which will take you up 1,815 ft high so that you can admire the city and bay from above.
Go and watch anice-hockey match, the national sports.
Nightlife lovers will not miss out on Entertainment District, the hub of 88 night-clubs over only a few feet. The marathon can begin! Bars, restaurants and theatres, this is the district of eventful nights!
Go on a boat ride on the lake - 208 mi long, 52 mi wide and 820 ft deep, the water is therefore always very cold.
Go shopping in Eaton Centre, one of Northern America's largest shopping centres, with 350 boutiques.
Go to the top of the CN tower, 1,815 ft high, one of the world's tallest and equipped with a glass terrace and a restaurant rotating at a speed of 13 mph. Try and walk on the glass floor: it's a fun experience!
Stroll in the parks of the city for an immersion into full nature and observe the squirrels which have found playgrounds there: High Park, Toronto's largest, Queen's Park, just behind the Parliament, a very lively park in the summer, and many others!
Go on a cruise, leaving from Queen's Quay West, and explore the surrounding islands. This is where you can enjoy a bicycle ride, a swim in summer, a jog in the midst of nature or just a pleasant walk: it's a great breath of fresh air!
Casa Loma: a 95-bedroom medieval castle built by a billionaire around the year 1911. When he lost his fortune, the Canadian state inherited it, to the great delight of tourists.
The underground city, a 15 mi long shopping centre under the financial district: 1,100 shops open mostly during office hours. Entrances to the PATH (that's its name) are indicated on the pavements.
Go to the Opera, the theatre and the cinema. The Opera hall is brand new and is supposed to have one of the world's top acoustics. No microphone, but a special type of glass.
Take your children to the Ontario Science Centre, which organises activities, plays and demonstrations arousing the curiosity of children and adults alike.
Go to the St Lawrence, Toronto's main market where 42 stands sell local produce (meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables).
The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) is Canada's major museum, containing some 6 million items. It consists of three buildings, the earliest one dating back to 1914 and the latest one to June 2007 - this is definitely a place to be visited when you are in Toronto. Various halls are dedicated to history lovers, art enthusiasts of all periods and anyone interested in biology, palaeontology or natural history. Two annual exhibitions attract many visitors; up until January 2010, the Dead Sea Scrolls were exhibited. An area is dedicated to children so that they can learn in a playful way about different subjects, how bees make honey, for example, and discover the bat cave, etc.
The mural, located on Queen's, not far from the distillery, represents 200 years of history depicted as scenes from everyday life.
There is a flour mill, converted into a distillery, then transformed into a small, lively district. Shops have been set up in the former distillery's rooms, where machines and tools were kept and preserved as much as possible. This is a rather different shopping district, with cute but expensive boutiques, but where you can have a drink in a timeless, pleasant setting.
China Town used to be the Jewish quarter, it now immerses you in modern China.
Little Italy and Greek Townare lively and charming districts, lovely for an afternoon or evening stroll, where a young ambience is felt in the very lively restaurants and bars.
Yorkvillage, the hippy district in the 1960's, has now become Toronto's chic district, where book shops and others have taken up residence in little houses with pointed roofs. Artists like to meet up here.
Cabbage townis a district of pretty little Victorian red brick houses which belonged to Irish workers in the mid-19th century.
Kemington market in China Townis a popular and friendly district where you can enjoy a walk in the small streets while listening to music or digging up stuff out of second-hand shops.
Forest Hill: Toronto's elegant district where you can admire beautiful houses which cost a minimum of one million dollars.
Gay Village, its ambiance, its boutiques with their original shop windows and old Victorian houses is adorable.
University Canada's largest, with 73,000 students has been built like British universities.
Carefully look out for underground station entrances because some of them are hidden in houses and therefore difficult to spot.
Keep the same underground or bus ticket, which remains valid as long as you are going in the same direction.
Remember to add VAT to the price of everything you buy. In restaurants, don't forget that service is not included either.
Buying alcohol if you are under 19: it is forbidden.
Do not order a starter in the restaurants thinking that it is only the beginning of your meal, as, more often then not it is your main meal.
Hot dogs are sold at every street corner and are certainly the cheapest way to eat. Made with chicken, beef or vegetarian products, these hot dogs are not necessarily made with a sausage in a bread roll.
Each district has its own specialities. If you want to try a nice Chinese dish, go to the Chinese district; for pesto pasta, go to Little Italy, etc.
If you never tried Thai food before, you can go to Mengrai Thai with your eyes shut - Sasi Meechai-Lim is their reputed chef and he will transport you to South East Asia as soon as your starter soup is served: it is truly delicious!
Typical of Canada and Ontario, try fresh or smoked salmon as well as seafood.
Finally, do not leave without trying the famous smoked meat sold everywhere, especially in sandwiches.
Ice wine, made in the region which is rich in vineyards, this typical Canadian drink is one of the only two souvenirs (along with maple syrup) which you can take home and share with friends.
Kensington Market's second-hand clothes stalls.
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